Italy’s Andrea Pavan celebrated the imminent arrival of his second child by winning his first European Tour title after coming out on top in a final-round duel with three-time major winner Padraig Harrington.
Pavan carded a closing 67 in the D+D Real Czech Masters to finish two shots ahead of playing partner Harrington on 22 under par, with Malaysia’s Gavin Green three strokes further back in third.
Harrington looked on course for a 16th European Tour win when he led by three shots at the turn and was still two clear with five to play but the 46-year-old bogeyed the 15th while Pavan reeled off three birdies in the space of four holes in a brilliant back nine of 31 at Albatross Golf Resort.
I can’t believe it to be honest,” Pavan said. “Coming down the back nine trailing Pádraig since the beginning, he was playing really well and not making any mistakes and I just knew I needed to stay aggressive and it was amazing to finish this way.
“To birdie 16 and 17 was unreal. You know when you go against such a great player that you have to stay aggressive and that was my mentality today.
This week everything seemed to work - my driving has been a struggle for years and this year I found a new driver in Australia and it seemed to be working much better.
“Even if this week it wasn’t key, the putting the first three days was unbelievable.
“I’m going back home tomorrow and we’re having a second baby, a little girl is coming on Wednesday. We’re really excited about that and I can’t wait to celebrate with my family.”
Harrington and Pavan shared a three-shot lead heading into the final round and Harrington birdied the first, sixth and ninth to move three in front before Pavan hit back with birdies on the 10th and 12th.
Seeking a first win since 2016 just days after losing his PGA Tour card, Harrington almost made a hole-in-one on the next before tapping in for birdie to extend his lead
However, Pavan went on to birdie three of the next four holes.
“It was a good contest, no doubt about it,” Harrington said.
I obviously don’t feel like I lost it, Andrea won it for sure. He played great coming home and holed the decisive putts. I get my fair share of wins but it wasn’t my day today.
“I don’t feel I have an issue playing against these younger guys, I feel I can certainly keep up with them and I have some good things in my own game.
Well done @AndreaPavan89. You played great golf down the stretch but also you were an easy and sporting partner to play with it. Make time to enjoy your success.— Padraig Harrington (@padraig_h) August 26, 2018
“Even from a week like this, you learn more when you get in contention.
“To shoot 20 under par on any golf course, you’ve got to put some numbers together so I’m happy with that, Andrea just finished really well.
“He played lovely golf all day to be honest and made those birdies. It’s a pity but I’ll settle for this most weeks.
“I’ll give myself plenty of chances to win and I know it’s a numbers game, some weeks it will be my turn for the putts to drop and the right shots at the right time.”
“I’m seeing things about my game that I can improve and work on.
“I’m in a nice place, I just have to keep doing the good stuff and hopefully there’ll be more tournaments like this ahead.”
Ryder Cup hopefuls Thomas Pieters and Eddie Pepperell finished in a tie for ninth on 12 under par.
The final qualifying event will take place at the home course of European captain Thomas Bjorn in Denmark and gets under way on Thursday.